It has been a surprisingly busy week for the Mariners. First, there was the Heilman deal. Then, they signed Mike Sweeney to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. Thanks to a number of injuries the past three years, he is likely washed up, but the invite can't hurt. Now, the Mariners have focused their attention on acquiring one more bat, preferably in the outfield. Rumor is they have targeted Bobby Abreu as their clear top choice.
Bobby Abreu would be the perfect fit for this team. He could play either in left or right field, and though he is not an incredible defender, he is still an upgrade over Raul Ibanez. Also, Abreu is left-handed and has comparable power to Ibanez, so his swing and skillset should play in Safeco well. Most importantly though, Abreu is one of the most patient hitters in the game today. He always is among the league leaders in pitches seen, and has a career on-base percentage right around .400. His approach at the plate would help any team, but especially a team that has been as overly aggressive as the Mariners the past couple years.
The only thing holding up a deal between Abreu and the Mariners right now is money. From the sounds of it, Abreu is not asking for too much. It's just that the Mariners do not have much money to play with at this point. The Mariners are believed to have roughly $94 million to spend on payroll this year, and they are right around $92 million with the players they have right now. So, to sign Abreu, someone is going to have to be traded, with the logical choice being Washburn, Silva, or Batista.
The problem is that no team in their right mind will take any of the M's three overpriced starters. Batista has only one year left on his deal, but he looked terrible last year, and he's only getting older. He has absolutely no value. Meanwhile, Carlos Silva is very likely to bounce back, but is a team really willing to bank on that if they need to eat 3 years and nearly $40 million in salary? That leaves Jarrod Washburn, who is the most likely to get dealt, but look at who is still available. Guys like Randy Wolf, Oliver Perez, and even Ben Sheets can't get deals, and will likely sign for less than what Jarrod Washburn will make this year. Why would any team not sign one of those pitchers first?
If the Washburn deal in place with the Yankees at the deadline had not been nixed, Bobby Abreu would be a Mariner right now. The trade turned down looked bad at the time, and it continues to look worse. As good as Jack Zduriencik has been so far, I do not see how any GM could pull off a deal with Jarrod Washburn in this current market. It is sad becuase the Mariners might have an outside chance of contending with Abreu. Thank you Mariners ownership, or whoever shot down the Washburn deal last July.